JLRMovieReviews

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Reviews

Elizabeth Is Missing
(2019)

The Superb Glenda Jackson
Glenda Jackson's friend Elizabeth s missing but no one pays any attention what Maude (Glenda) is saying They dismiss her. By the way Maude has dementia and has notes all over reminding her what to do and not to do. She lives in a state of haphazard order and with a feeling of futility. This crusade to find Elizabeth only makes her feel even more helpless and yet with a firm resolve to do SOMETHING.

She is also remembering her sister who mysteriously disappeared years ago. What happened to her?

For fans of Glenda Jackson, this is a must-see. Glenda is spectacular. I predict she will be winning awards for this. In fact, she has already won British awards for this. Miss this and you miss one of the many great performances of Glenda Jackson.

The Painted Veil
(1934)

GARBO MUST FOR FANS ONLY
Greta Garbo is the best thing about this film adaptation of Maugham's The Painted Veil. While married to bacteriologist Herert Marshall, she travels to China, where Herbert is trying to do some good. She is up to no good when she meets George Brent and has a love affair. In real life, she and George were more than friends, and, with their electric chemistry, their scenes are fascinating to watch. Garbo looks positively radiant here. The ending was changed to meet Hollywood's code of ethics. But I did appreciate the adult treatment of Garbo and Herbert's feelings and situation. For Garbo buffs, this is a must see, but otherwise for a better version of the novel watch the 2006 movie with Edward Norton and Naomi Watts 7/10

Unfinished Business
(1941)

Muddled Fare for Cast
This curiosity piece for Robert Montgomery and/or Irene Dunne fans should be left alone. I wanted to like this film, but frankly it felt like it was thrown together. Irene is torn between brothers Preston Foster and Bob, and all they do is talk and talk. Irene Dunne's presence helps the viewer to keep watching, but this clearly is one of her worst films, and I usually try to see the best in my favorite actors' movies. You've been warned.

Sitting Pretty
(1933)

A Forgotten Gem
Jack Oakie and Jack Haley are songwriters who want to hit the big time. They hichhike their way to Hollywood. Along the way, they meet Ginger Rogers. This musical comedy lives virtually in obscurity, which is a shame. Oakie and Haley make for quite a pair and are very funny. The songs are very snappy and clever, and the movie even features a Busby Berkeley-like musical number. I could have rewatched this. This is my new favorite discovery. This short review barely scratches the surface of the charm of this forgotten gem.

Judex
(1916)

Entertaining Silent Serial
Judez demands justice against a rich man who ruined people financially, among other things. Judex is making him face the consequences. Meanwhile, a woman just hired as a nanny has her own agenda. Also, meanwhile a old man comes to the rich man for help in finding his long-lost son. In the beginning this played out like a soap opera, with so many plots and people to keep track of. They all blend together eventually. Despite its flaws, I found this to be very entertaining. All the characters were three-dimensional and you really get drawn into this so easily. The hired detective and the licorice kid are highlights of this silent serial that delivers the goods, albeit in a long-winded way.

Our Time
(1974)

A Time Not That Long Ago...
Pamela Sue Martin and Parker Stevenson are the leads in this story that takes place at a 1955 girls' school, but Betsy Slade steals the show as her search for love takes a very dramatic turn. It was somewhat painful to watch, as she learned and had to endure the repercussions forced on her. Pamela and Parker are good in their roles, but virtually are given very little to do. I would watch this again and would recommend this to all who happen to find it. It will definitely leave an impression on you, depicting an innocent time that grew up too fast.

Untitled Mel Robbins Talk Show
(2019)

The Best Daytime Show You Didn't See
This show has already been given the ax, which is a travesty. Not many people found it, I guess, But The Mel Robbins Show is an informative and extremely helpful show. Mel listens and gives succinct and straight-forward answers to everyday problems, some in extreme situations. Known for her success as a motivational speaker, she made it to daytime and could have helped more people if given the time. I am sad to see her go.

Hollywood Canteen
(1944)

Great music but way too long!
The many stars and musical numbers are very good especially in the first hour (the Andrew Sisters a highlight) and Jack Benny is always good (who doesn't like Jack Benny), but the whole plot of Robert Hutton meeting Joan Leslie feels dated, corny and unrealistic to me. If you love this era of music and seeing all these movie stars, it may be worth your while. But after two hours, I think you'll feel wore out.

The Favourite
(2018)

Olivia Colman's Tour de Force
Just because you're thrust into the position of ruling as King or Queen doesn't mean you're cut out for it. Olivia Colman is Queen Anne, whose existence is plagued by chronic illnesses and constant unhappiness. Ms. Colman is simply magnificent, as she embodies the pitiful woe-is-me, emotionally out-of-control, petulant childish Queen with her every manner. She's taken by the celebration of the festivities of dancing at a ball until she envies those who can dance, and get around better than her. Her life is a roller-coaster of feelings, emotions, and manipulations. Rachel Weisz keeps her in check and knows her inside out, but soon Rachel's place by her side is threatened by Emma Stone.Who will ultimately be Queen Anne's Favourite? The film and all actors are excellent, but Olivia Colman rightfully steals the show and you think about her even when she's not in the scene. Ms. Colman deserved the Oscar. Sorry, Glenn! This is not a satire or a comedy. It is dark in tone. This is serious. This was life for some who didn't ask for it. Discover it today.

Go West, Young Lady
(1941)

Underrated Comedy
Penny Singleton is a young lady on her way to her uncle, but what she doesn't know is that he's expecting a young man, because even though her name is Belinda her father called her Bill. Her uncle wants Bill to help with some outlaws. because her father called Bill the best shot this side of the Mississippi. The little western town has hired a new sheriff, because they can't keep one alive. Both Glenn Ford (the new sheriff) and Penny are on the same stagecoach coming into town. Such begins this fun-filled comedy with great musical numbers. Ann Miller is on hand with her usual flair, and she has a meatier role here than usual With her small voice, Penny has a very sweet disposition but she has spirit and gumption too. Of course Glenn and Penny start to likin' each other. but he keeps gettin' in her line of fire! I loved it so much, I could watched it again! Discover this gem today!

Won't You Be My Neighbor?
(2018)

Not Deserving of His Legacy
Don't confuse the subject matter with the documentary itself. Fred Rogers, the man, was ahead of his time and was an example of kindness and goodness, becoming the most important and influential teacher of all time, teaching children of all ages. But, frankly, I was disappointed in this documentary, overall. It showed great footage of Mister Rogers asking for PBS funds and in his quiet time for himself. As I have read "The Good Neighbor," (the newly released biography of Fred Rogers, I know he had quite a sense of humor and he liked to shock or surprise people. But there is a time and place for it, and this was supposed to be family-friendly. Instead it comes across as common. The less said the better. I understand why this was not nominated for an Oscar. It didn't deserve it. For Fred Rogers, the man, I give a '10.' For this, a '2.' In between a '6.'

The Secret of Madame Blanche
(1933)

An Irene Dunne Tearjerker
Irene Dunne falls in love with a well-bred gentleman, who is not suited for anything but to spend his daddy's money. They marry, but the marriage doesn't last long, when he goes back to his father, played unmercifully well by Lionel Atwill. But after Lionel gives him an ultimatum and feeling put in a no-win situation, his son commits suicide, thereby setting up the stage for pregnant Irene alone in the world, forced to do what she has to. But Lionel quickly has his grandson taken from her and in his sole custody. Fast forward, the son, played by Phillips Holmes, is a soldier who happens to come across her establishment, a bar with rooms to let! You know the rest. Or do you? This is far from dull and does get rather melodramatic before the final fade-out, pulling no punches and no subtlety. While not entirely one of Ms. Dunne's best, this certainly entertains.

The Silver Cord
(1933)

Laura Hope Crews at Her Best
Irene Dunne has married Joel McCrea and is going to meet his mother, played by Laura Hope Crews. But what Irene doesn't know is that Laura had her own plans for her son – to live close by her side and visit often. Based on a stage play, this can come across as rather talky and stagy, but I find the subject matter fascinating and most absorbing as we see the mother trying subtly and sometimes not so subtly to manipulate her sons so that they may never leave her. Eric Linden is another son, who is engaged to Frances Dee, unless "poor, pitiful" mother has anything to do with it. I don't know much about the movies and career of Laura Hope Crews, who played "Aunt Pittypat" in "Gone with the Wind," but I would surmise that this is one of her best and meatiest roles. The film belongs to her, as she has tantrums and wraps her sons around her little finger. By the way, costars Joel and Frances would marry in real life. If you happen to discover "The Silver Cord," which I doubt, don't pass this up. You may be looking for the best films of the great Irene Dunne, but instead you will discover the under-appreciated Ms. Laura Hope Crews at the zenith of her career.

Something So Right
(1982)

So Perfect is This!
Young Ricky Schroder lives with his divorced mother, after her husband left them, or any male supervision or guidance. He seems to be on the path of a juvenile delinquent, as he's constantly in trouble and has no regard for learning. Patty feels he needs the presence of a "big brother." But when she goes for help, she's told there are more boys that need them than men volunteering for the job. One possible person comes to mind. Enter James Farentino, a middle-aged, hair-thinning character, with a vaudeville sense of humor. With practically nothing in common, James and Ricky try to connect. From beginning to end, this captured and impressed me as one of the most natural, relaxing and down-to-earth television movies I've ever seen. The people were real and relatable. I've never seen James Farentino play such a kooky character, yet endearing. At such a young age, Rick Schroder displays such matureness, and his discipline as an actor using his craft is evident. And, Patty Duke of course was perfect. They played off each other very well, and director Lou Antonio has created a world that feels like it's just down the road a bit from home. "Something So Right" is an excellent movie that enriches all those who see it.

Easter Parade
(1948)

Easter Parade, a Movie Musical Essential!
Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Peter Lawford and Ann Miller star in this grand movie musical about a dancing team (Fred and Ann) who break up when Ann Miller decides she has bigger aspirations and leaves the act. Fred then in turn in emotional haste states that she is replaceable and that he can teach anyone to dance as well as she does. Enter Judy Garland. I can't believe I haven't reviewed this film before now, and I don't know if I can contain myself enough to write one. This is absolutely one of my top five musicals of all time, OF ALL TIME! How could I possibly be unbiased! There is not one moment, scene, song or feeling that feels false or weak. Much has been said about the "A Couple of Swells" number in this movie, but every single musical number is great, with "Steppin' Out with My Baby" arguably being the highlight. But even the slow songs that Judy Garland sings are great. There are lots of great crooners and/or vocalists in American music history, but Judy Garland had her distinctive way of reaching her listeners and making you feel in in her place. See the "Better Luck Next Time" number. It goes without saying that Fred is excellent here, and Ann Miller has always been my favorite dancer, who held a record at one time with the most taps in one minute. See her "Shakin' the Blues Away." And, Peter Lawford sings! How can you not like this film! I say it every Easter that this film is too good to only watch once a year. See it right now! See it next month! Watch it for July 4th! See for yourself why this is a great example of MGM movie musicals at their best!!

Tribute
(1980)

Another Stand-Out Jack Lemmon Performance
Jack Lemmon learns he is dying and tries to finally connect with his son (played by Robby Benson), whom he pretty much abandoned when he left his ex-wife, Lee Remick. A man who has no real close relationships, he is loved by many acquaintances because of his outrageousness, his carefree attitude, his one-liners and clownish cut-ups; in short, he is "a crowd-pleaser," as someone in the film calls him. For all his love of life (and women) that comes through to the viewer, this is also one of the most depressing films I have ever seen. I have seen hundreds of films and seen a lot of somber, serious, and/or downbeat movies, and this was painstakingly real in its depiction of loneliness, regret, and in facing death. In fact, that night I dreamed of Jack Lemmon, and I never dream of movie stars. Having said that and also that this film may be flawed, I would watch this again, I think. Jack Lemmon gives another great performance and deservedly received an Oscar nomination for it. There is no real plot save for his trying to connect to Robby, whose character is unusually "old" for a boy his age, and truthfully whose mannerisms reminds me of someone I know. There is an array of supporting characters to lighten up the mood, including Kim Cattrall and an unusual nurse. "Tribute" is a special film about real people who are trying to reach out before it's too late.

Lady in a Jam
(1942)

Who's in a Jam? Irene or Us!
Irene Dunne is a "Lady in a Jam." She has gone bankrupt and her possessions are being sold in an auction to pay her debts. But she is oblivious to her plight and doesn't take anything serious. Her lawyer or accountant, played by Eugene Palette, has been after her about her inevitable situation. But she has done nothing to help herself, but buy stuff on whims. When Eugene goes to a psychiatrist (Patric Knowles) to get her some help, things get crazy. The situations from then on feel contrived and unrealistic, but at the same time it's bizarre enough to keep you interested, like a car wreck. It's not really that funny, but is only fairly amusing and is a disappointment as one of Irene Dunne's films. She is convinced by Patric to go back home, where her eccentric grandmother and ex-beau (Ralph Bellamy) live. "Lady in a Jam" is only for die-hard Irene Dunne fans, and even those will be only modestly entertained.

Sweet Adeline
(1934)

Sweet Adeline is Sweet Time with Ms .Irene!
Irene Dunne is "Sweet Adeline," who sings in a beer garden and has aspirations as a professional singer. Her father is opposed to Donald Woods, who write songs, as a suitor. Hugh Herbert plays an eccentric yet likable character (when did he not), who is trying to catch a spy, who is a famous singer. All this sounds admittedly simple-minded, undemanding and corny, but that's why I found it to be refreshing. Hugh Herbert's scenes with Nydia Westman, as Irene's sister, were very natural and were genuinely amusing/funny. Perhaps the highlights of the film are the outstanding songs written by Kern/Hammerstein, sung to perfection by Ms. Dunne. Despite the old feel of this film, I would watch this again, not expecting much except a good, easy-going time with Irene Dunne and company.

The Murder of Mary Phagan
(1988)

A More Thorough Study of the Mary Phagan Story
Jack Lemmon stars in this TV telling of a true incident in our history. When a young lady is killed, her employer (Peter Gallagher) is accused, because of circumstantial evidence, supposedly true testimony of others implicating him, his ladies man reputation, but mostly because he is a Yankee and a Jew in the South. He is given a trial, which isn't quite a fair one. When the sentence is hanging until death and a pardon from the Governor is possible, Governor Jack Lemmon feels the prisoner was given a bum deal, considering the community's prejudice and has qualms about letting the man hang. He goes on his own crusade and investigation to delve deeper into the story. Jack Lemmon has never given a bad performance, and in fact, everyone was very good in their role, especially Dutton in his memorable role. This was a very educational, involved and thoughtful film. "They Won't Forget" with Claude Rains and Lana Turner was another film about this, but that was a loose telling of the story, as it took place in a school setting instead a workplace. I've seen it, and it stands on its own as a good example of hard-hitting drama and movie-making if not totally accurate to the basic facts. After seeing this version though, you may not want to see the older version, as this puts the characters and their feelings first rather than serving their problems up for your entertainment.

Dress Gray
(1986)

Dress Gray - A Unique 1980s Experience
Alec Baldwin stars in this TV miniseries about the murder of a gay cadet in a military academy, and he stands accused and has to clear his name. I didn't know what to expect, but this played out more like a political thriller than a drama, especially Part 2, with the investigation and dealing with the people who were tailing Alec and his girlfriend. A lot of older celebrities star in this and are good, but some like Alexis Smith were given literally nothing to do. Hal Holbrook is very memorable, and Eddie Albert was given a rare dramatic role as the victim's father who didn't know he was gay. Some reviewers say there was too much talking and that this could have been much shorter. Maybe. But on the whole, this seemed to be an exceptional miniseries with outstanding, full-force performances by all.

Marianne
(1929)

Marion Davies at Her Best! Oui! Oui!
Marion Davies stars in her first talkie after having a prolific silent movie career with this film, "Marianne." Here she is as a simple French lass in love with a French soldier during World War I. But when American soldiers see her they fall all over themselves trying to be the one first in line, particularly Lawrence Gray and Cliff Edwards. But Cliff Edwards (and Benny Rubin) primarily provide comic relief and some great songs. Cliff Edwards was a very talented singer and entertainer of his day, and sang the classic song "When You Wish upon a Star" and was the voice of Jiminy Cricket in "Pinocchio." Lawrence Gray has a nice voice too, but Cliff had that pep and comic flair thrown in his numbers. In fact, I saw this years ago, but had forgotten how funny this was. All the songs (sung by the soldiers!) were very good, considering how most of the early musicals, once talking pictures were made, were very dated and corny. The funniest part of the movie is when Marion masquerades as an officer to get Lawrence out of jail for taking her pig! Yes, I said, her pig! This was a fun and enjoyable showcase for the talented and underrated Marion Davies who was too many times dismissed as only William Randolph Hearst's mistress, therefore being under scrutiny in Orson Welles' classic, "Citizen Kane." Forget what you may think or know about her, and enjoy her as "Marianne."

Funny Valentines
(1999)

My Special Valentines!
Alfre Woodard and Loretta Divine are excellent in "Funny Valentines," in which Alfre comes back to her small town home and reconnects with her cousin, with whom she shared her childhood. We see flashbacks of a disturbing trauma that still has present-day consequences. The scenes with Alfre and Loretta are electric, with Loretta being especially sweet and vulnerable. But we feel such strength from their love for each other. We care so much for Loretta, with her mother being sick in the hospital and yet also being hard to manage. I can't believe this isn't out on DVD! This is one the best TV movies I've seen! It makes you feel so good. You feel like these people are your family, your friends. Watch "Funny Valentines" for a story rich in love and full of hope with the under-appreciated Loretta Devine and Alfre Woodard.

How to Fall in Love
(2012)

Eric Likes Brooke!
Eric Mabius liked Brooke D'Orsay in high school but she never knew how much. Present day: He has no girl and no style. Feeling insecure, he's now shy and has nobody to love. A friend of his tells him about a dating coach, but that experience was terrible. He meets Brooke, when she's waitressing, but who's really an event planner and without a job currently. Long story short, you know what happens. She helps him with his approach to women and insecurity, all the while she's.... This may be predictable fluff, but it's so sweet, special, and real, that it spoke to me and I really, really enjoyed it. Katky Najimy gives great support as another waitress and friend to Brooke. And, the rivalries and feelings between Brooke and sister were handled very well. This is the kind of film you watch sick in bed, a feelgood movie for all romantics, or just anyone who likes sweet films.

Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing
(1973)

All about Love, Mature Love of Two Lonely People
Timothy Bottoms is a lost and shy young man with no apparent direction or aspirations, not liking college or getting along with or even being understood by his father. He is forced to go on a biking tour across Europe, with a friend of the family being the teacher/chaperone for the trip, but Timothy abruptly leaves the tour and jumps on a bus full of people on their own tour excursion. He befriends Maggie Smith, who has her own problems. They make quite a couple with their own insecurities, but they form an alliance, slowly, very slowly. When one gets closer, the other draws back. Both give very sincere and thoughtful performances. The ending is rather unexpected, but then again what I did expect to happen, realistically? A viewer's appreciation of this film will develop more, with each viewing, as we see a mature look at love, loneliness and real life and shows Maggie Smith and Timothy Bottoms at their restrained best.

Romance on the Orient Express
(1985)

Rare Romanticism of 1980s Television
Cheryl Ladd takes the Orient Express with a girlfriend, as she remembers her past and a past love. OR is he, a past love? This must have been shown on British TV in 1985, because it doesn't look like anything that was ever on CBS, ABC or NBC in the 1980s. The locales, Sir John Gielgud and the romantic aura it has all come together to make a very rare television film, and one I think will be a favorite for true romantics. In her thoughts and the flashback, we see her and her girlfriend traveling through Europe and meeting Alex and his friend. Cheryl as Lily and Alex have an interlude but are separated. 10 years pass until present day when Cheryl and another girlfriend (who of course plays up the "where are the men on this train?" attitude and who looks a lot like Vicki Lawrence) are on the Orient Express and Alex has found her and tries to make up for what he did. Some dialogue and somewhat awkward scenes could be found unintentionally funny, but on the whole this is a very deeply felt and sincere little film for the true romantic at heart.

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